Taking the pulse of the magnetosphere
Among the simplest instruments used to study our planet?s link to the Sun are magnetometers. These devices measure the direction and strength of the Earth?s magnetic field and were developed almost 200 years ago. Modern magnetometers form the basis of sophisticated geophysical observatories and are sensitive to tiny changes in the field due to disturbances either in the ionosphere or the magnetosphere. By studying these disturbances we can learn about the space environment, just as measurements of tremors in the ground tell us about activity beneath the surface.
The Earth is studded with hundreds of magnetometers operated by many different nations and the UK plays a key role. The sub-auroral magnetometer network (SAMNET) records data from 13 magnetometer stations in the UK, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia. Deployed by the University of York and now operated by Lancaster University in collaboration with the British Geological Survey and the Finnish Meteorological Survey, SAMNET has been helping scientists investigate the electrical currents flowing in the ionosphere high above our heads and explore dynamic in the distant magnetosphere.
Find out more about SAMNET, including how to build your own magnetometer, by clicking the link below!